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THURSDAY American Playwrights Theater (A&E cable, 9-10 p.m. and again at 1 a.m. Repeated Dec. 10, 3 p.m.): Elizabeth Ashley, Len Cariou, and Jose Ferrer star in Eugene O'Neill's grim, fearfully penetrating one-act tragedy ``The Rope,'' which focuses on the same troubled family that figures in his marathon masterpiece ``Long Day's Journey Into Night.'' The production is the second of four plays by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights in an A&E series hosted by Anthony Quinn. Luciano Pavarotti at Viareggio (A&E cable, 10-11 p.m. and again 2-3 a.m. Repeated Dec. 10, 4 p.m.): In a quintessential Pavarotti recital, the great tenor sings Tosti, Puccini, Schubert, and others at a packed concert hall in Viareggio, Italy. John Wustman accompanies at the piano.

Pavarotti Christmas special (PBS, 8-9 p.m.). Deservedly re-aired each season, his popular 1980 holiday concert is performed with several accompanying groups from Montreal's awesome Notre Dame basilica.

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SUNDAY Gorillas (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): An edition of ``Nature'' filmed in Africa about the endangered mountain gorilla (some 400 are left). It reveals the creature's complexity and debunks the stories about their aggressiveness that used to be told by men who had traveled thousands of miles to shoot them.

Please check local listings for all programs, especially on PBS.

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